Danny Briere and Claude Giroux are not the first players from the Philadelphia Flyers to make the jump to Europe in light of the NHL lockout, but none of their forebears have as high a profile. Earlier today, the two were formally introduced to the fans of their new home, the Eisbären Berlin. The press conference can be viewed here.
An informal transcript:
Question: “Danny, would you like to give your first impressions of the practice today?”
Briere: “All day, you know, since a few days ago, there’s excitement. I think thats probably the best word to describe how I was feeling the last few days. Excitement about coming here. So far today, it’s been a lot of fun finally getting to meet everybody from the organization. The players, getting on the ice… it’s been a fun day. So far, there’s nothing, no disappointment, it’s all been good. I’m looking forward to Friday.”
Question: “Claude, would you maybe summarize your reasons why you took the chance during the lockout to come to Berlin?”
Giroux: “Yeah, when the lockout came out, I was kind of looking where I could go play. I just wanted to play hockey. I looked at most options that I could. When my agent talked to me about playing with the Bears in Berlin, I did some research and I talked to Danny, he made some research too. Just looked at the fans, how intense they are, how they like the game. We know a couple guys from the team too, so it was an easy decision to come here. We only heard good things about Berlin, so we decided to come together. It’s going to be a good experience and we’re looking forward to go back on the ice. I think Friday’s going to be a pretty exciting game and we’re looking forward to it.”
Question: “Donny [Jackon, the coach], you had both guys at practice today. Was there a big difference between the two of them and the other players?”
Jackson: “Surely, you know, they made very nice passes and both competed very hard. We were happy to see them. We know they bring lots of experience with them from the game’s top league and it was especially interested in our conversation after our practice that they both asked about the defensive side of the game because we know that they can both score. I was also humbled to get a question from Claude who was wondering if he was going to be able to get to play the powerplay. We figured that we might be able to find some place in there for him.”
Question: “You talked about some of the reasons why you wanted to come to Berlin, which is mostly liking the city (laughs), and what is it about the level of play at this club and the kind of play that you see here in the German league that also prompted you to want to play here for awhile?
Briere: “Well, for me, it was mostly from the research that we heard, people talking to us and we all know that it’s a very competitive league. It’s a combination of many, many things. Obviously, first of all, the organization. The quality of the organization. Everybody said that it’s one of the top places to play for players, so that went a long way. The fans as well, we’ve heard a lot of good things about the fans. The team, being one of the top teams in the German league… there’s many things that pushed us towards the Ice Bears.”
Question: “Mr. Briere, how much do you really know about European hockey? I think you competed in the IIHF World Championships and you played for a Swiss club during the last lockout. Can you maybe compare the Swiss league to the DEL or you know there’s not enough to do that?”
Briere: “Well, I might be in a better place to answer that after I’ve played a few games here. From what I’ve heard, it’s just as good if not better, so I’m looking for the same kind of intensity, I guess. I know I said it earlier to a lot of people- this was a wonderful experience in ’05 when we had the last lockout when I played in Switzerland… One of the best experiences of my life. So I’m approaching this experience the same way. I think it’s going to be fun- you make a lot of new friends, and get to play some very competitive hockey. So that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Briere: “You know, at this point, it’s not about money. I look back when the same thing happened, and I’ve heard a lot of comments. Some players have said that, after the last lockout, that it was a wasted year… that they ‘lost a lot of money for no reason.’ I didn’t see it that way at all for me. It was, like I said earlier, one of the best experiences of my life, something that I wouldn’t have had the chance to pay for. It’s kind of the same thing this time around… Coming here to enjoy and try to help out as much as we can. I think that’s the goal.”
Giroux: “When I was eighteen, I played in the World Juniors, but it’s obviously not the same. I went to the Czech Republic… but I’m looking forward to the experience. Obviously Germany is, I think of all the places I could have been in Europe, I think Germany is the style of play that is maybe closest to the NHL. It’s so tougher, guys play harder, and that’s one of the why reasons I came here. I wanted to play the same style, and at the same time coming here, I’m looking forward to learn a lot and to learn more about the game in Germany and hopefully to take that experience and bring it to the future in my career. If I can learn a lot, and I’m sure I will too- there’s good coaches here, and there’s a lot of good players- I’m expecting to… learn a lot from this game, and at the same time, if I can help other players in their game, and kind of bring the thing I learned from the past year in Philly, that would be great and hopefully we can just help each other and make sure we all get better, all at the same time.”
Question: “… How do you judge the situation in North America at the moment? I think there’s no further negotiations scheduled at the moment. Maybe the question is… how long do you think you will stay here?”
Briere: [Awkward sigh, awkward laugh] “Honestly, I have no clue…”
Briere: [Laughing] “… I have no clue. I know there’s negotiations going back and forth. But whatever happens, happens. We can’t control that, there’s people that are in charge of it… you know, we’re hockey players. We want to play hockey, and we’re excited to be here. That’s about all I can say on the subject for now. I’m just like you, I don’t know what’s going to happen, I have no clue.”
Jackson: “You’re looking at the line right now on the stage…”
[Editor’s note- it’s unknown whether Briere or Giroux (if either) will be centering this line]
Question: “Are there players you’ve already played with, in the junior league or something, on our team right now, or played against when you were younger?”
Briere: “I think I’m a little too old. This team is too young, so no. There’s Denis Pederson that I played with in Phoenix, I think he was here last year.”
Giroux: “Growing up, when I was ten till fourteen, I played against Mark Katic. He was a year younger than me and he was pretty much the best player on his team. Me and him didn’t really like each other, we went at it pretty much a lot of times, but he’s a good player. When I knew that he was coming here, and I saw him, I was pretty excited to play with him.”
Question: [Inaudible] “… With your family or without your family?”
Briere: “Here? Uh, without. We’ll see down the road. Maybe the kids will… I know they want to come, they’ve already asked… but with school, and their own teams, hockey teams, it’s a little tough right now.”
Question: “… Your first impressions here maybe of the training [facility]… the place you trained this morning and the arena here, compared to American standards maybe?”
Briere: “Well, I don’t think there’s much of a difference. We have practice rinks… I think the practice rink was actually really nice. It’s a big building to have, to call it a practice rink. I think it’s very well equipped, and then you walk into this building, which is magnificent. It looks amazing. I can’t wait to- we were just talking about that on the way here. We can’t wait to see, we’ve heard about the ‘Ozone.’ To see what it’s like, the atmosphere I guess, is amazing. We’re looking forward to see that.”
Giroux: “Pretty much, when we saw the, uh, I went to Youtube to see the crowd behind the net. It’s pretty intense. In Philly, we’re pretty lucky to have great Flyers fans. They’re pretty intense too, so I’m pretty sure it’s going to be pretty much the same intensity. For me and Danny, every time the fans in the arena, it kind of gives you a little boost, to kind of try harder. I think we’re pretty excited to see that. We’ve been talking about the game Friday for 24 hours now, so we’re pretty excited.”
The photo from this post is courtesy of the Eisbären Berlin home page.
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